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Yarn Xpress

If you have to wear a scarf, why not have one with some personality? I'd been searching around for scarf ideas that aren't too cutesy when I noticed some sugar skulls I had unearthed while cleaning out a disturbingly disorganized cupboard.

I wanted a pattern that was relatively straightforward -- preferably with no partial rows needed to create the holes. I settled on felting, which allowed me to knit straight across each opening and then cut out the yarns crisscrossing the eye and nose openings without having to worry about anything unraveling.

The yarn for this scarf -- Classic Elite Lush -- is one of my favorite felting yarns. It takes a bit of effort to get the felting underway, but the resulting fabric is incredibly soft and pliable.

model: Alan Fairhurst, Mindi Canner photos: Kate Kuckro


Length: 66 inches before felting, approx. 60 inches after felting



Classic Elite Lush [50% Angora, 50% Wool; 124yd/111m per 50g skein]; color: Cream #4416; 2 skeins

1 set US #8/5mm needles
Stitch holder or spare needle
Tapestry needle
Sharp scissors

22 sts/24 rows = 4 in stockinette st in stockinette stitch, before felting

[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations can be found here]

To make the skulls identical, the scarf is knit in two pieces from the skulls up and then grafted together at the middle. Since I don't like long scarves, I designed a finished length of about 60 inches. If you prefer longer scarves or just hate the idea of have left-over yarn, continue knitting each half until close to the end of each skein; just be sure to leave about one yard for grafting the two sides together.

If you substitute yarns, be careful to check that the yarn you choose felts properly. In some cases, white yarns and other light colors may not felt as well (or at all) as dark colors in the same brand.



CO 14 sts.
Rows 1-8: Work in stockinette st.
Row 9 [RS]: K1, m1, k to last st, m1, k1. 16 sts.
Row 10 [WS]: P.
Row 11 [RS]: [K1, m1] twice, k to last 2 sts, [m1, k1] twice. 20 sts.
Row 12 [WS]: P.
Rows 13 & 14: Work as for Rows 11 & 12. 24 sts.

Row 15 [RS]: K1, m1, k9, BO 4 sts, k to last st, m1, k1.
Row 16 [WS]: P11, yo 3 times, p to end of row. 25 sts.
Row 17 [RS]: K1, m1, k9, k2tog, yo, k1 (in center yo), yo, ssk, k9, m1, k1. 27 sts.
Row 18 [WS]: P11, p2tog, k1, p2tog tbl, p to end. 25 sts.
Row 19 [RS]: K1, m1, k9, m1, k2tog, drop next st from left needle, yo twice, ssk, m1, k to last st, m1, k1. 28 sts.
Row 20 [WS]: P12, m1, p2tog, p2tog tbl, m1, p to end. 28 sts.

Row 21 [RS]: K1, m1, [k6, k2tog, yo twice, ssk] twice, k to last st, m1, k1. 30 sts.
Row 22 [WS]: P8, p2tog, yo twice, p2tog tbl, p6, p2tog, yo twice, p2tog tbl, p to end.
Row 23 [RS]: K7, k2tog, yo, k1, p1, yo, ssk, k4, k2tog, yo, k1, p1, yo, ssk, k to end. 30 sts.
Row 24 [WS]: P7, p2tog, k2, p2tog tbl, p4, p2tog, k2, p2tog tbl, p to end. 26 sts.
Row 25 [RS]: K8, yo, k2, yo, k6, yo, k2, yo, k to end. 30 sts.
Row 26 [WS]: P all sts.
Row 27 [RS]: K9, drop next 2 sts from left needle, yo twice, k8, drop next 2 sts from left needle, yo twice, k to end. 30 sts.
Row 28 [WS]: P10, [k1, p9] twice.
Rows 29 & 30: Work in stockinette st.

Shape Top of Skull
Row 31 [RS]: K1, ssk, k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1.
Row 32 [WS]: P all sts.
Repeat these 2 rows 3 times more. 22 sts rem.

Next Row [RS]: K3, yo, k2tog, k to last 5 sts, ssk, yo, k3.
Next Row [WS]: P6, [yo, p2tog, p1] 4 times, p4.

Work in stockinette st until work measures 33 inches, or half of desired length. Place sts on st holder or spare needle.*

Repeat from * to * once more.


Graft the two halves together using Kitchener stitch; for directions, see the Knitty Summer '04 Techniques with Theresa.

Weave in ends.

Begin fulling the scarf by hand until the fabric is uniformly firm and the stitches are only slightly distinct. I used a dollop of mild soap, lots of rubbing, and alternating immersions in hot and cold water. Once the fabric is firm, use sharp scissors to cut the threads running across the eye and nose openings on each skull. If necessary, carefully cut any straggling bits around the openings to even them out.

You can finish fulling the scarf by hand or in a washing machine. To finish by hand, continue as above. To finish by machine, carefully place the scarf inside a small lingerie bag or a knotted pillowcase. Set the machine to a normal wash cycle with hot water, followed by a cold-water rinse. Choose the lowest water level possible.

Add the bag or pillowcase and about a teaspoon of mild detergent and start the wash cycle. Check on the scarf's progress about halfway through each cycle (you may need to run the scarf through more than one cycle to acheive the desired result), and remove it once the fabric has reached the desired texture and density.

Once the fabric is very firm and the stitches are no longer distinct (at least on the right side -- purl stitches may still show a little on the wrong side), rinse it by hand in cold water and roll it in a towel to remove any excess water. Lay the scarf flat on a dry towel and pat/pull it into shape where needed. Allow the scarf to dry completely.


Kate Kuckro lives in San Francisco, where she spends as much time as possible knitting, crafting, and baking. After a number of dismal attempts at scarves and doll blankets when she was little, Kate abandoned knitting until college. She has been happily experimenting, designing and knitting ever since.

To read more about her knitting inspirations and experiments, please visit her blog; see more of her knits and patterns here.